Remind me again: Why does NASA need the SLS? (rocket design)


EXCERPT: . . . The SLS is the foundation of it all. Bigger and more powerful than a Saturn V, it would be capable of throwing huge amounts of payload into space, including the Orion capsule and the Gateway together in a single launch.

However, SLS has been plagued with huge cost overruns and long delays. In the new 2020 budget, funding for both Orion and SLS are cut back, and more money allocated to the Gateway. The reasoning in the budget outline is that the first stage of the SLS is so badly over budget and behind schedule that NASA needs to scale back working on the enhanced upper stage part of it and get the first stage done. As I mentioned in yesterday's article, Eric Berger at Ars Technica has lots of details to fill in the blanks here.

However, because the upper stage would be deferred, SLS would no longer have the capability in the near future to launch payloads to the Moon. But that's one of its biggest reasons SLS is being built in the first place! So that's stunning right away. But there's more...


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